Pickled Raspberries

I was browsing through some magazines this weekend and came across a recipe for a shrub, which is an alcoholic drink with a base of pickled fruit puree. Could you quick pickle fruit for a fun dessert topping I wondered? Time to experiment in the kitchen.

pickled raspberries

I used red wine vinegar that I flavored with cinnamon, and anise to make pickled raspberries. I LOVED IT.  The play of the sour berries against a creamy vanilla ice cream was fantastic.  Who knew you could eat “pickles” for dessert?

Pickled Raspberries

¾ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup white granular sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1 star anise
1 cup raspberries, washed

Place the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, and anise in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place the raspberries in a glass jar,  place the cinnamon stick and anise on top and then and slowly pour the vinegar over the raspberries.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably over night.  To serve, place vanilla ice cream


Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

One of my favorite cooking tips is to bake scallops.  This results in tender scallops that turn out perfect every time. I enjoy sharing this tip so much, I decided to build my entry for the create TV cooking challenge around it (below).

Buried in my entry are two other tips: (1) toast flour and (2) use quick pre-prepared items to really build up flavor in an easy way.

I chose to coat my scallops with a coconut flour to create a nice tropical flavor, that isn’t too over powering yet that stays well. The first step though is to toast the flour to eliminate the raw flour taste, and enhance the coconut flavor.

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops

I also paired the scallops with jasmine rice, which is a floral scented, long grain rice. To the rice I added some lemongrass puree to give it that extra oomph (You can find the puree in a tube in the produce section of your local grocery store).

 Plating was simply layering the rice, coconut crusted sea scallops, and salsa for an impressive, yet easy dinner.

Coconut Crusted Sea ScallopsCoconut Crusted Sea Scallops

Coconut Crusted Sea Scallops with Jasmine Rice and Mango Salsa

½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup butter, melted
1 pound sea scallops
1 cup jasmine rice
2 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon lemongrass puree
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons cilantro
Zest and juice of one lime

Preheat the oven to  350 °F.

While the oven heats, toast the flour. Add the flour to a nonstick pan over high heat, and stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until the flour has an even, light brown color. Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the toasted flour and stir to mix.

Dunk the scallops in the butter, coat in the toasted coconut flour, and then place in an 8×8 glass pan treated with non-stick spray. Bake the scallops for 30 minutes.

While the scallops bake, make the rice and salsa. To make the rice, bring the water, jasmine rice, and lemongrass puree to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

To make the mango salsa, combine the  mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

To plate, place ¾ cup rice on a plate, top with some of the sea scallops, and garnish with the mango salsa. Serve immediately.


Wild Blueberry Tropical Smoothie

Contest Note: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I find smoothies are a fun, easy way to get my kids to eat a quick and healthy breakfast which they believe is a real treat.  Take for example this Wild Blueberry Tropical Smoothie. The base of wild blueberries adds intense flavor, has double the antioxidants of fresh blueberries, and adds beautiful royal hue, whereas the pineapple adds fiber and a hint of tropical flare.  The mango kefir and coconut milk also help set the tropical tone, while adding protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 to the power drink.  The addition of flaxseed meal ups the fiber once again and adds a serving of omega-3s. Finally, the lime zest and juice finishes off the drink to give it an over the top tropical taste.  The result is a refreshing, satisfying and good-for-you smoothie the whole family will enjoy.

Wild Blueberry Smoothie

I couldn’t help serving this Wild Blueberry Tropical Smoothie in a glass garnished with toasted coconut and whimsical straw.  Even with a busy morning, the garnish doesn’t take much time.  Simply add sweetened, shredded coconut to a non-stick pan and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  A dab of honey is all it takes to get it to stick to the glass!

Wild Blueberry Smoothie


Wild Blueberry Tropical Smoothie

1 cup frozen wild blueberries
½ cup frozen pineapple slices
1 cup mango flavored kefir
½ cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons flaxseed meal
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Toasted coconut and honey for garnish (optional)

Place the wild blueberries, pineapple slices, kefir, coconut milk, flaxseed meal, lime zest, and lime juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth. Pour into two garnished (If desired) glasses and serve immediately.

For garnish: add sweetened, shredded coconut to a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until coconut is light brown in color, about 2-3 minutes. To garnish glass, coat the rim of a glass with a bit of honey and roll in the toasted coconut.

#AD, #Sponsored, #WildYourSmoothie


Stone Fruit Salad in Waffle Cones

In Colorado, peaches grow extremely well on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Named Palisade peaches for the area where they are grown, they are in peak season around late August to early September.  This week I couldn’t resist buying a few pounds of the fragrant, sweet stone fruit.

The peaches are so sweet they really are almost like a dessert – which gave me an idea, why not serve a simple stone fruit salad in waffle cones? I paired the peaches with black pluot bites, and added a bit of honey and fresh mint.  While simple, this really makes the peaches shine in the dish and the addition of a waffle cone as a serving utensil makes it fun.

stone fruit saladYou might even be tempted to eat a serving for breakfast rather than dessert – go ahead, I won’t tell!

Stone fruit Salad in Waffle Cone

4 medium sized peaches (~ 4 cups, pitted and chopped)
4 black pluots (~4 cups pitted and chopped)
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons honey
6 waffle cones

Pit and chop the peaches and pluots and add to a large bowl. Add the mint and honey and stir to coat.  Spoon evenly into waffle cones and serve.


Papaya-Peach Smoothie

Papaya-Peach Smoothie

This week’s fun, Colorful ChoicesTM inspired dish is a Papaya-Peach Smoothie.  In addition to the challenge to eat colorful produce, two other factors contributed to my recipe:

(1)    I may have overbought a variety of fresh fruit this past week.  Peaches were a steal and it had been awhile since we had eaten papaya.  This was in addition to the wealth of apples, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries that I had stocked.

(2)    My daughter wanted to make a special treat to enjoy with her neighbor friends. She had suggested muffins or cupcakes. Since it is the middle of July I wasn’t keen on the idea of firing up the oven, so sly mom that I am, I offered up the mommy-wants-to-use-up-excess-fruit smoothie idea instead.


Keeping the smoothie simple, I used my food processor to blend papaya, peaches, almond milk, honey, flax meal, and Saigon cinnamon into a delicious treat that the whole family enjoyed.  The mix of papaya and peaches was the perfect blend of exotic and sweet tastes.  Just like in my Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothies, the flax meal amps up the omega-threes and fiber to make this Papaya-Peach Smoothie a healthy breakfast alternative.

Papaya-Peach Smoothie

Now I just have to eat my way through the rest of our fruit!

Papaya-Peach Smoothie

2 cups chopped, ripe papaya
3 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped
½ cup almond milk
4 tablespoons flax meal
1 ½ teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey

Add the papaya and peaches to a food processor or blender and mix until smooth.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth again.


Farro and Mixed Berries Salad

If you often get bored with the typical dinner sides of rice and potatoes, then you will like trying this ancient grain as much as I did.  Farro is a hulled wheat that provides a good source of fiber, protein, and magnesium among other nutrients.  When cooked, it has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor.  I used it to create a Farro and Mixed Berries Salad that was both refreshing and delicious.

Farro and Mixed Berries Salad

I also thought it would be a fun side dish for 4th of July parties by mixing in a bit of red, white, and blue through my add ins.  The strawberries and blueberries add a pop of color and just the right amount of sweetness, whereas the onions and feta add enough savory balance.  Who knows, the unique grain might also serve as a great conversation starter during your meal!

Farro and Mixed Berries Salad

Farro and Mixed Berries Salad

Farro and Mixed Berries Salad

1 cup farro
2 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 ounce olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup chopped strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup diced white onion
½ cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon chopped mint


Rinse the farro, then add to a large pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes then drain and add to a large bowl.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, mustard and honey.  Pour over the farro and stir to coat. Add in the strawberries, blueberries, onion, feta, and mint and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Raspberry-Rhubarb Sauce over Chocolate Chip French Toast

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to come up with a special breakfast that wouldn’t be too hard to make, even if you were making it for a crowd. I started with a springtime favorite – rhubarb – and built a recipe around it.  The result: Raspberry-Rhubarb Sauce over Chocolate Chip French Toast. Hungry yet?

Raspberry Rhubarb Sauce

The Raspberry-Rhubarb Sauce can be made ahead of time, simplifying prep on Mother’s Day.  Simply bring frozen rhubarb, raspberries, sugar, and water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes longer or until the fruit has reduced to a thick syrup. Once it is cooled, a bit of maple extract is stirred in, creating the perfect French toast topper.

Raspberry Rhubarb Sauce2

I decided to serve it over not just any French toast, but chocolate chip French toast.  I simply couldn’t pass up this chocolate chip brioche, which once dunked into a simple custard, fried up to a delectable French toast.  Topped with the raspberry-rhubarb sauce, the French toast turned into a dish any mom would be happy to be served as a celebratory breakfast (or brunch), and it certainly is a hit with the kiddos!

Raspberry Rhubarb Sauce3

Raspberry Rhubarb Sauce

6 ounces  frozen, sliced rhubarb
6 ounces frozen raspberries
3/4 cups white sugar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon maple extract

Add the frozen rhubarb, raspberries, sugar, and water to a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes longer or until the fruit has reduced to a thick syrup. Once it is cooled, stir in the maple extract.  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Chocolate Chip French Toast

4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices chocolate chip brioche, ~ 1-inch thick each

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, half and half, and salt and pour into a shall dish such as an 8×8 casserole dish. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet, then dip two of the brioche slices, evenly coating both sides,  into the egg custard and then add to the skillet.  Fry bread for 1.5 – 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Remove from the pan and keep warm, and repeat with the remaining slices of brioche.  Serve warm with the raspberry-rhubarb sauce.


habanero watermelon skewers

Habanero Watermelon Skewers

Move over caprese skewers, a new, hotter appetizer is in town.  These Habanero Watermelon Skewers are just as easy and fun as their cousin. I happened to find hot habanero cheese at the grocery store this week and I was wondering how to work it into a dish.  It turns out this particular brand is super spicy so I wanted to balance the heat with some cooler ingredients.  Seeing the untouched, seedless watermelon on my counter, an idea started to form.  What if I created Habanero Watermelon Skewers?

The idea of blending cheese and watermelon might seem unusually, but it is actually a great balance of sweet and salty.  I have tried – and loved – this watermelon, feta, mint, and pepper salad from bhg.com. It seemed logical that another cheese + watermelon combo could be just as tasty.


So I tried it.  Instead of basil, mozzarella, and tomato found in a caprese skewer, I used fresh oregano, hot habanero cheese, and watermelon.  It is a wonderful balance – the pepperiness of the oregano and sweet, juiciness of the watermelon are a good partner to the spicy cheese.  These Habanero Watermelon Skewers are sure to be a talked about item at your next gathering – just make sure that if some of your guests prefer a more mild spiciness that you heed the note listed in my recipe, below.



Habanero Watermelon Skewers

3 to 6 ounces of hot habanero cheddar cheese slices (* see note)
2 ½ cups seedless watermelon cubes (1inch x 1 inch x 1/2 inch), ~ 20
0.25 ounces fresh oregano
20 appetizer skewers

Cut the cheese into slices (see note, below). Place the watermelon cubes on a tray, then place a slice of cheese on top of each, and evenly divide the oregano leaves between the appetizers.  Place an appetizer skewer through each stack, anchoring the pieces together.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*note: The pictures use 6 ounces of hot habanero cheese, cut in 1 inch x 1inch x ~¼ in slices (5 rows lengthwise, 2 rows widthwise, and thickness cut in half).  The brand I used (Lucerne) was pretty hot, so if you prefer less heat I would recommend cutting the slices in half (1 inch x ½ inch x ~¼ inch) and centering on the watermelon.


Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smootie

Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie

Sometimes breakfast deserves a healthy, yet fun drink.  For instance, when the weather brings a hint of spring and you can enjoy your patio snow-free, even at the early morning hours. It is for that reason that I whipped up these Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothies, donned my sunglasses, and ventured outside for an alfresco breakfast.

Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie

I was recently introduced to kefir – a fermented, milk based beverage that is high in protein, calcium, and live, active cultures.  It is one of my new favorite go-to items to start my day.  It comes in plain and a few flavored varieties, but I haven’t seen (and I had a hankering for) an orange flavored kefir.  Consequently, I decided to use a creamy, whole fat kefir as my smoothie backdrop and I added in fresh orange juice and zest and honey to create an orange creamsicle flavor.  I also added some ground flax meal for added texture, fiber, and omega-3s.

Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie

The resulting drink was easy to make (no blender necessary!) and was a joy to drink (especially with the whimsical paper straw) while soaking up some morning sunshine.  I don’t know if it truly was the drink or the beautiful weather, but my husband declared he would prefer to start each day with this Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie over a cup of coffee. Time to stock up on kefir!

Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie

Orange Creamsicle Kefir Smoothie

Zest and juice of 4 navel oranges (~1 cup fresh orange juice)
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons ground flax meal
2 cups whole fat, plain kefir
Oranges slices and blueberries for garnish, if desired

In a large container, stir together the orange zest, orange juice, honey, ground flax meal, and plain kefir until smooth.  Pour into two large glasses, garnish with orange wedge, blueberries, and whimsical straws, and serve.


Blackberry-Hibiscus Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is usually a staple at a Thanksgiving meal. The bigger debate around this popular side dish is typically canned, jellied version vs. homemade, whole berry cranberry sauce. While I like both, I really enjoy the flavor variety you can add to homemade sauce. Plus it is super easy.

For this year’s meal I wanted to add a second type of berry. I chose blackberry since it also goes well with poultry. In addition to blackberry, I added a hint of hibiscus and orange zest (which I cut in larger chunks rather than finely grating the peel), resulting in a very ruby colored and delicious Blackberry-Hibiscus Cranberry Sauce.

Blackberry Habiscus Cranberry

The exotic flavored cranberry sauce has been a fun treat to enjoy all week, both as a sauce for my turkey and stirred into my morning parfait.

Blackberry Habiscus Cranberry

Even if you are a lover of the canned variety, I encourage you to give this cranberry sauce recipe a try!

Blackberry Habiscus Cranberry


Blackberry Habiscus Cranberry

Blackberry-Hibiscus Cranberry Sauce

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup pulp-free orange juice
½ lb frozen blackberries, thawed (~1 cup)
3 cups fresh cranberries (wrinkled berries removed)
1 tablespoon dried hibiscus
Zest of one orange

Place all of the ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the cranberries skin begin to burst and sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Autumn Bellini

I happen to love shopping at the warehouse stores, though sometimes they can result it much larger quantities of items than you really need. For example – canned pumpkin. Visions of pies and breads danced in my head as I picked up the package of three, 28 ounce cans. Of course I’ll use all this pumpkin!

This trio of cans could make about 6 pumpkin pies. Hmmm. Am I really going to eat make that much pie? Hence, I wanted to craft a few other uses for my pumpkin-o-plenty. What first came to mind was a holiday mocktail – an Autumn Bellini.

It uses a bit of canned pumpkin puree and pears (and a dash of apple pie spice) to replace the typical peach puree in a bellini,

autumn Bellini

Which then gets topped with sparkling apple cider.

autumn Bellini

A simple, yet festive mocktail that tastes like your favorite holiday pie in a glass. Cheers!

autumn Bellini

autumn Bellini

Autumn Bellini

15 ounce can of pear slices in heavy syrup, drained
¼ cup canned pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon apple pie spice
1 bottle of sparkling apple cider*


In a food processor or blender, mix the pears and pumpkin puree until a smooth puree is formed. Stir in the apple pie spice, and then evenly divide the puree between 8 champagne flutes, then pour the sparkling cider into the flutes until they are full but not overflowing. Serve immediately.

*Note, Prosecco can be substituted for the sparkling cider if you prefer a cocktail over a mocktail


Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

The fresh, perfectly ripe nectarines looked so inviting on my latest trip to the grocery store that I just had to stock up to make a crisp. Even with peak August heat, turning on the oven to make the bubbly, oat topped treat is so worth it.


What I love about making crisps is that they are super easy to throw together. To make this nectarine and blueberry crisp I tossed together chopped nectarines, blueberries and corn starch.


Then, the fresh fruit is topped with a simple mixture of rolled oats, brown sugar, and flax seed meal cut with butter to make a crumbly crust. Just 30 minutes in the oven is all is needed to transform the dish into a perfect end-of-summer dessert.

Nectarine Crisp

Nectarine Crisp

If you are lucky enough to have some leftovers, it makes a delicious breakfast too!

Nectarine Crisp


Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

6 ripe nectarines, pitted and chopped (about 4 cups)
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup flax seed meal
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
½ cup butter, chopped
Vanilla ice cream (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Place the nectarines and blueberries in a 2-quart square baking dish. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the top and toss gently to coat. In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flax seed meal, brown sugar, and apple pie spice. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the nectarine mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve warm, with ice cream, if desired.